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Category: Books

Playing with pearls

I’ve just sent out a newsletter. If you missed it, you can see it here and maybe sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out in future. I try to keep the newsletter news and the blog posts a bit different, though not all the time, of course. The newsletter was to give people a sneak peek of my new cover for MARRY IN SCARLET, and because Berkley jumped the gun and have popped it on some sites already, I showed newsletter readers the draft of the cover and the final result.

I also announced that I have a new contract and am playing with ideas for a new series. My editor wants to talk over my ideas with me in January, so I’ve been writing snippets and brainstorming ideas. I don’t have a shortage of ideas — that’s never my problem. The difficulty is in deciding which ideas to go ahead with, which ideas excite me most, and which ideas will hit the spot with readers.

Often when I’m pondering writing or story issues I fiddle with beads, making things, and often experimenting with techniques. I really enjoy making jewelry and ornaments from beads, pearls, semi-precious gemstones and fimo — all kinds, in fact.

The ones in the picture on the right are what I came up with yesterday — trying out a new-to-me technique. The pearls on the black cord are real pearls, mostly leftovers from past projects, and the ones in the ball shape are glass pearls. 

I’m trying to decide whether to make the round ball a Christmas ornament, or a dangly pendant to wear on a chain or a cord. It’s about 5cms (2 inches)  in diameter. Oh, decisions, decisions . . . 

 

Here’s a necklace and earrings I made a few weeks ago. The beads are stone, a kind of jasper — I think they were labelled  “blue sea sediment jasper”.  I’ve had them for ages, but hadn’t decided what to do with them. Then I realized they would go really well with a new top I had, so out came my beading tools.

You might notice that the little earrings in the middle don’t have hooks on them — just a loop so I can pop them onto my sleepers. When I make earrings for other people I attach them to hooks. But not if they’re for me. In the days when I used to wear hooks, I lost so many earrings — usually only one. Now, attached to my sleepers,  I rarely lose any.

In Scotland

When I was eight, we went to live in Scotland, just for a year — my dad did a swap with a Scottish teacher. She lived in our house and did his job and we lived in her house and he took her classes. We lived in this house in a pretty and historical small village.

For me, it was a magical move. For a start, I’d never lived in a two story house — in Australia back then most houses (except for inner city terrace houses) were single story.  I’d read all these lovely English stories where people had attics, but I’d never had one or even seen one, and this house not only had an attic, it was reached by a “secret” stairway through a cupboard door. So exciting. And from an angled window set into the attic ceiling, you could look out over the rooftops and see an ancient Pictish tower.

We arrived in the heart of winter and the big garden was all covered in snow — again, something magical for me, though the snow was frozen and packed too hard to make a snowman. But when the snow eventually started to melt, I couldn’t believe that the poor frozen plants under the snow could come back to life again, but they did. It was my very own “secret garden” experience and I’ve never forgotten it.

Do you know the Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett? It’s a Victorian-era story of a spoiled, disagreeable child, Mary Lennox, who was born in colonial India, and when orphaned, had to start life again in very different circumstances in England. She meets her neurotic crippled cousin and a wholesome country boy, and together they discover and restore a secret garden, and in doing so, heal themselves. I loved it as a child.

Frances Hodgson Burnett wrote a number of books for children. I was a real bookworm as a kid — nothing has changed there — and I learned quite young to remember author’s names, and that if I liked one book by an author, I was likely to enjoy their other books as well. 

My other favorite of her books was The Little Princess. Again it was about a child who started life in colonial India, but though she was indulged and pampered, she was a sweetie. When she’s orphaned her life changes dramatically — she goes from being a rich girl in an exclusive girls’ boarding school, to being an unregarded drudge. Lovely story. I might have to read them both again. (Note, the link for the Little Princess takes you to a kindle file with both of these stories.)

When the hero arrives

I love the moment in a story when the hero arrives. When I’m writing it, I sometimes have a clear idea of what the hero looks like, and other times I find a photo on line that hits the spot. Often it’s not the physical appearance that is my hero, but something else that strikes me, a tone, an expression, a feeling that the image gives me.

In MARRY IN SECRET, the hero, Thomas appears in a dramatic stop-the-wedding moment.

Here’s a short excerpt — and here’s the image I thought was quite Thomas-ish. You can see that it’s not an exact description of this image of Viggo Mortensen—no broken nose, a beard, but not a really heavy one, and so on  — but it’s an evocative image and it suggested the feeling of my Thomas to me.
What do you think?

The stranger stood in stark contrast to the smoothly groomed and elegant congregation. He was tall and gaunt-looking, but his shoulders were broad—a laborer’s shoulders. His clothes were ill-fitting, coarse, the trousers ragged and patched in places. He wore no coat. His shirt was too flimsy for the season and his shoes were of laced canvas, dirty and with visible holes.

If he knew he was grossly out of place in this, the most fashionable church in London, interrupting the most fashionable wedding of the season, he showed no sign, no self-consciousness.

He was heavily bearded. Thick hair rioted past his shoulders, wild and sunbleached. The face above the beard—what she could see of it—was lean and deeply tanned, the skin stretched tight over prominent cheekbones. His nose looked as if it had been broken at least once. The tattered shirt sleeves revealed tanned, powerful-looking muscles.